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Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. In her second novel written in English (The Saint of Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features eBook features: Read with the free Kindle apps (available on iOS, Android, PC & Mac), Kindle E-readers and on Fire Tablet devices. One rainy afternoon in Istanbul a woman walks into a doctor's surgery. 'I want an abortion', she announces. She is nineteen years old, and unmarried. Mar 20, Download [PDF] Books The Bastard of Istanbul (PDF, ePub, Mobi) by Elif Shafak Free Complete eBooks.

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor's surgery. She is nineteen years old and unmarried. What happens that afternoon will change her life. Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya's beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya's Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey's turbulent past begin to emerge. Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey.

Paperback —. Buy the Ebook: Add to Cart. Also by Elif Shafak. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. She had learned all the information she could gather on high-latitude stratospheric circulation, the characteristics of the mesosphere, valley winds and sea breezes, solar cycles and tropical latitudes, and the shape and size of the earth. Everything she had memorized at school she would then volley in the house, peppering every conversation with atmospheric information.

Each time she displayed her knowledge on physical geography, she would speak with unprecedented zeal, floating high above the clouds, jumping from one atmospheric layer to the next. Then, a year after her graduation, Feride had started to display signs of eccentricity and detachment. Although Feride's interest in physical geography had never petered out in the fullness of time, it inspired yet another area of interest that she profoundly enjoyed: Every day she read the third page of the tabloids.

Car accidents, serial killings, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods, terminal illnesses, contagious diseases, and unknown viruses Feride would peruse them all. Her selective memory would absorb local, national, and international calamities only to convey them to others out of the blue. But the news she conveyed did not upset the others, as they had renounced believing in her long ago.

Her family had figured out one way of dealing with insanity, and that was to confuse it with a lack of credibility. Feride was first diagnosed with a "stress ulcer," a diagnosis no one in the family took seriously because "stress" had become some sort of catchphrase. As soon as it was introduced into Turkish culture, "stress" had been so euphorically welcomed by the Istanbulites that there had emerged countless patients of stress in the city.

Feride had traveled nonstop from one stress-related illness to another, surprised to discover the vastness of the land since there seemed to be virtually nothing that could not be related to stress. After that, she had loitered around obsessive-compulsive disorder, disassociative amnesia, and psychotic depression.

Managing to poison herself, she was once diagnosed with Bittersweet Nightshade, the name she most relished among her infirmities. At each stage of her journey to insanity, Feride changed her hair color and style, so that after a while the doctors, in their endeavor to follow the changes in her psychology, started to keep a hair chart.

Short, midlength, very long, and once entirely shaven; spiked, flattened, flipped, and braided; subjected to tons of hairspray, gel, wax, or styling cream; accessorized with barrettes, gems, or ribbons; cropped in punk style, pinned up in ballerina buns, highlighted and dyed in every possible hue, each one of her hairstyles had been a fleeting episode while her illness had remained firm and fixed.

After a lengthy sojourn in "major depressive disorder,". Feride had moved to "borderline"-a term construed quite arbitrarily by different members of the Kazanci family. She thus became even more suspicious of this crazy daughter whom she had not trusted in the first place. In stark contrast, for Feride's sisters, the concept of "border" mainly invoked the idea of edge, and the idea of edge invoked the image of a deadly cliff.

For quite a while they treated her with utmost care, as if she were a walking somnambulist on a wall meters high and could fall down any time. However, the word "border" invoked the trim of latticework for Petite-Ma, and she studied her granddaughter with deep interest and sympathy.

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Feride had recently emigrated into another diagnosis nobody could even pronounce, let alone dare to interpret: Whatever the diagnosis, she lived according to the rules of her own fantasyland, outside of which she had never set foot.

But on this first Friday of July, Zeliha paid no attention to her sister's renowned distaste for doctors. As she started to eat, she realized how hungry she had been all day long. Almost mechanically, she ate a piece of forek, poured herself a glass of ayran, forked another green dolma onto her plate, and revealed the piece of information growing inside her: Gynecologists were the one group among all the physicians she had had the least experience with.

Banu dropped her chicken wing and looked down at her feet as if they had something to do with this; Cevriye pursed her lips hard; Feride shrieked and then oddly unleashed a whoop of laughter; their mother tensely rubbed her forehead, feeling the first aura of a terrible headache approaching; and Petite-Ma It might be because she had gone quite deaf in the course of the recent months.

Perhaps it was simply because she thought there was nothing to fuss about. With Petite-Ma you never knew. That'd be more scientific! You are not scientific, you are cold-blooded! That's what you are! I have not killed I did! I tried to have the droplet aborted but somehow it did not happen.

Zeliha put on a brave face. In a few minutes the operation will begin and the baby will be gone. But then just when I am about to go unconscious on that operating table, I hear the afternoon prayer from a nearby mosque The prayer is soft, like a piece of velvet.

It envelops my whole body. Then, as soon as the prayer is over, I hear a murmur as if somebody is whispering in my ear: Only Petite-Ma remained far off in a better land, having now finished her soup, obediently waiting for her next dish to arrive.

Oooo you the culprit of the righteous Kazanci family! Let this child live! You don't know it yet, but this child will be a leader. This baby will be a monarch! This child of yours will lead the masses, and bring peace and justice to humankind! The baby is still with me! Before long, we'll put another plate at this table. A bastard! You've always brought disgrace on this family. All that makeup andd the revoltingly short skirts, and oh, those high heels!

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This is what happens when you dress up You should thank Allah night and day; you should be grateful that there are no men around in this family. They'd have killed you. Not the part about the killing perhaps, but the part about there being no men in the family. There were. But it was also true that there were far fewer men than women in the Kazanci family. Like an evil spell put on the whole lineage, generations after generations of Kazanci men had died young and unexpectedly.

Petite-Ma's husband, Riza Selim Kazanci, for instance, had all of a sudden dropped dead at sixty, unable to breathe. Then in the next generation, Levent Kazanci had died of a heart attack before he had reached his fifty-first birthday, following the patterns of his father and his father's father. It looked as if the life span of the men in the family got shorter and shorter with each generation.

There was a great-uncle who had run away with a Russian prostitute, only to be robbed by her of all his money and frozen to death in St. Petersburg; another kinsman had gone to his last resting place after being hit by a car while trying to cross the autobahn heavily 29 ELIF SHAFAK intoxicated; various nephews had died as early as their twenties, one of them drowning while swimming drunk under the full moon, another one hit in the chest by a bullet fired by a hooligan enjoying himself after his soccer team had won the cup, yet another nephew having fallen into a six-foot-deep ditch dug out by the municipality to renovate the street gutters.

Then there was a second cousin, Ziya, who had shot himself, for no apparent reason. Generation after generation, as if complying with an unwritten rule, the men in the Kazanci family tree had died young. The greatest age any had reached in the current generation was forty-one.

Determined not to repeat the pattern, another great-uncle had taken utmost care to lead a healthy life, strictly refraining from overeating, sex with prostitutes, contacts with hooligans, alcohol and other sorts of intoxicants, and had ended up crushed by a concrete chunk falling from a construction site he happened to pass by.

Then there was Celal, a distant cousin, who was the love of Cevriye's life and the husband she lost in a brawl. For reasons still unclear, Celal had been sentenced to two years on charges of bribery. During this time Celal's presence in the family had been confined to the infrequent letters he had been sending from jail, so vague and distant that when the news of his death had arrived, for everyone other than his wife, it had felt like losing a third arm, one that you never had.

He departed this life in a fight, not by a blow or a punch, but by stepping on a high-voltage electricity cable while trying to find a better spot to watch two other prisoners exchange blows. After losing the love of her life, Cevriye sold their house and joined the Kazanci domicile as a humorless history teacher with a Spartan sense of discipline and self-control. Just as she waged battle against plagiarism at school, she took it upon herself to crusade against impulsiveness, disruption, and spontaneity at home.

Then there was Sabahattin, the tenderhearted, good-natured, but equally self-effacing husband of Banu. So noticeable was their physical distance that when Banu had announced being heavy with twin boys everyone had joked about the technical impossibility of the pregnancy.

Yet the ominous fate awaiting every Kazanci man had struck the twins at an early age. Upon losing her toddler boys to childhood illnesses, Banu permanently moved into her family house, only to sporadically visit her husband in the years that followed. Every now and then she went to see if he was doing okay, more like a concerned stranger than a loving spouse.

Then, of course, there was Mustafa, the only son in the current generation, a precious gem bequeathed by Allah amid four daughters.

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak | Books

The result of Levent Kazanci's fixation on having a boy to bear his surname had been that the four Kazanci sisters had each grown up feeling like unwelcome visitors. The first three children were all girls. Banu, Cevriye, and Feride had each felt like an introduction before the real thing, an accidental prelude in their parents' sex life, so determinedly were they oriented toward a male child. As for the fifth child, Zeliha, she knew she had been conceived with the hope that fortune could be generous twice in a row.

After finally having a boy, her parents had wanted to see if they were lucky enough to make another one. Mustafa was precious from the day he was born. A series of measures had been taken to protect him from the grim fate awaiting all the men in the family tree.

As a baby he was bundled in evil-eye beads and amulets; as a toddler he was kept under constant surveillance, and until age eight his hair was kept long like a girl's so as to deceive Azrail, the angel of death. Whenever someone needed to address the child, "girl" they would say, "girl, come here! A king in his house, the boy seemed to refuse to be one among many in the classroom. So arrogantly antisocial outside his house, so indisputably cherished as the king at home, and with the passing of each birthday so ominously close to the doom suffered by all the Kazanci men, after a while it seemed like a good idea to send Mustafa abroad.

Within a month, Petite-Ma's jewels were sold for the money required and the eighteen-yearold son of the Kazanci family left Istanbul for Arizona, where he became an undergraduate student in agricultural and biosystems engineering and would hopefully survive to see his old age. Hence, when on that first Friday of July, Gulsum chided Zeliha, asking her to be grateful for the lack of men in the family, there was some truth somewhere in that statement.

In response Zeliha said nothing. Instead she went to the kitchen to find and feed the only male in the house-a silver tabby cat with an insatiable hunger, an unusual fondness for water, and plentiful social-stress symptoms, which could at best be interpreted as independent, and at worst, as neurotic. His name was Pasha the Third. In the Kazanci konak generations of cats had succeeded each other, like human beings; all had been loved and without exception swept away solely by old age, unlike human beings.

Though each cat had retained its distinct character, overall two competing genes ran through the feline lineage in the house. On the one hand, there was the "noble" gene coming from a longhaired, flat-nosed, powder white Persian cat Petite-Ma had brought with her as a young bride in the late s "the cat must be what little dowry she has," the women in the neighborhood had mocked.

On the other hand, there was the "street" gene coming from an unidentified but apparently tawny street cat the white Persian had managed to copulate with in one of her runaways.

Generation after generation, as if taking turns, one of the two genetic traits had prevailed in the feline inhabitants born under this roof. If the kitten looked like a descendant of the aristocratic line, white and furry and flatnosed, they would name it successively, Pasha the First, Pasha the Second, Pasha the Third If it were from the street cat's lineage, they would name it Sultan-a more superior name, signaling the belief that street cats were selfgoverning free spirits, in no need of flattering anyone.

To this day the nominal distinction, without exception, had been reflected in the personalities of the cats under this roof. Those of the nobility turned out to be the aloof, needy, quiet types, constantly licking themselves, wiping out all traces of human contact whenever someone patted them; those of the second group had been the more curious and vigorous types who delighted in bizarre luxuries, such as eating chocolates.

Pasha the Third characteristically embodied the features of his lineage, always walking with a pompous rhythm, as if tiptoeing through broken glass. He had two favorite occupations, which he put into practice on every occasion: Of the latter he could get tired, but of the former, never.

Almost every electrical cord in the house had been once or thrice chewed, scraped, dented, and damaged by him. Pasha the Third had managed to survive to a ripe old age despite the numerous electric shocks he had received.

She then put on an apron and toiled through a hill of pots and pans and plates. When she had finished the dishes and calmed herself, she shuffled back to the dinner table, where she found the word bastard still hanging in the air, and her mother still frowning.

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They all sat there motionless until someone remembered the dessert. A sweet, soothing smell filled the room as Cevriye poured rice pudding from a huge cauldron into tiny bowls. While Cevriye kept doling with practiced ease, Feride followed her, sprinkling shredded coconut on top of each bowl.

As she breathed out her fatigue bit by bit, she felt the yo-yo indifference slacken off again. Her spirits sank under the weight of all that had and had not happened on this prolonged and hellish day. She scanned the dinner table, feeling more and more guilt-ridden at the sight of each bowl of rice pudding now canopied by coconut flakes. Then, without turning her gaze, she murmured in a voice so gracefully soft, it didn't sound like her at all.

Besides, this was not the right moment to putter around. Having left her little girl inside the car in the parking lot, she now felt ill at ease. Sometimes she did things she instantly regretted but could not possibly take back, and if truth be told, such incidents had multiplied alarmingly over the last few months-three and a half months to be exact.

Three and a half months of hell on earth as she resisted, fought over, cried about, refused to accept, begged not to, and finally yielded to her marriage coming to an end. Matrimony might be a fleeting folly that tricked you into believing that it would be forever, but it was harder to appreciate the humor when you were not the one who ended it. The fact that marriage had to tarry before it irretrievably lapsed gave the false impression that there was still hope until you understood it was not hope for the better that you were living for, 35 ELIF SHAFAK but hope that the suffering finally would end for both so that each could go his or her own way.

And go her own way was precisely what Rose had decided to do from now on. If all this was tantamount to some sort of a tunnel of anguish God was compelling her to crawl through, she would emerge from it no longer recognizable as that weak woman she once had been.

As a sign of her resoluteness Rose tried to force a chuckle but it didn't make it past her throat. Instead she sighed, a sigh that sounded more troubled than intended only because she had reached an aisle she'd rather not visit: Sweets and Chocolate Bars. She got herself one, two Not that she was carb-watching, but she liked the sound of it, or more precisely, she liked the possibility of being watchful of something, anything.

After being repeatedly accused of being a slipshod housewife and a terrible mother, Rose was eager to prove the contrary in any way she could. In a flash she swerved the cart, but found herself in another aisle of junk food. Where the hell were the diapers?

Her eyes caught sight of a pile of toasted coconut marshmallows and the next thing she knew there were one, two Don't Rose, don't Just this afternoon you gobbled a whole quart of Cherry Garcia ice cream You've already gained so much weight If this was an inner warning, it didn't come through loud enough.

Nevertheless, it activated a guilt button somewhere in Rose's subconscious and a picture of herself popped up in her mind. For a fleeting second, she stood staring at her reflection in an imaginary mirror, although she had so deftly avoided the real mirror behind the organic baby lettuces. With a sinking heart she eyed her widened hips and buttocks but still managed to smile at her high cheekbones, gold blond hair, misty blue eyes, and those perfect ears of hers!

The ear was such a trustworthy part of the human body. No matter how much weight you gained, your ears remained exactly the same, always loyal. Rose's physical form was anything but loyal. So volatile was her body she could not even classify it, the way Healthy Living Magazine categorized the body types of their female readers.

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If she belonged to the "pear-shaped" group, for instance, she would have wider hips than shoulders. If "apple shaped," she would be prone to gain weight in the stomach and chest.

Having the qualities of both pears and apples, Rose didn't quite know what category to fit in, unless there was another group left unmentioned, the "mango shaped," thick all over and thicker in the bottom. What the hell, she thought to herself. She would shed the extra pounds. Now that this hell-of-a-divorce season was over, she was going to become a new woman.

Definitely, she thought. Her hands reached out to sweets and toffees-Sweet 'N Low Sugar Free Butter Toffee, Starburst Fruit Chews, black licorice twists-and as soon as she had tossed these into the cart, she hurried as if running from someone chasing her.

But surrendering to her sweet tooth must have had a triggering effect on her guilty conscience because in next to no time she was struggling with a deeper sense of remorse. How could she have left her baby girl inside the car all alone? Every day you heard on KVOA about a toddler abducted in front of her home or a mother charged with reckless endangerment Last week a Tucson woman had set her house on fire and almost killed her two kids sleeping inside.

If anything close to that ever happened to her, thought Rose, her motherin-law would be thrilled. Shushan-the-Omnipotent-Matriarch would instantly file suit for the custody of her granddaughter. Immersed in these grim scenarios, Rose couldn't help shuddering. It was true she had been slightly off recently, forgetting things that were second nature, but nobody, not a single soul in his right 37 ELIF SHAFAK mind, could justly accuse her of being a bad mother!

Definitely not! She was going to prove that both to her ex-husband and to that mammoth Armenian family of his. Her exhusband's family was from another country where people bore a surname she couldn't spell and secrets she couldn't decipher.

Rose had always felt like an outsider there, always aware of being an odar-this gluey word that had stuck on her from the very first day. How terrible it was to still be mentally and emotionally attached to someone from whom you have been physically separated. When the dust had settled, out of that one year and eight months of marriage, all that was left for Rose was pure resentment and a baby.

That, indeed, was the most common side effect of postmarital chronic bitterness: It made you talk to yourself. No matter how much dialogue you imagined, you were never out of words.

Over the past weeks Rose had repeatedly argued in her imagination with each and every member of the Tchakhmakhchian family, defending herself with determination, winning every time, fluently articulating all the things she had failed to voice during the divorce and had been lamenting ever since. There they were! Latex-free superabsorbent diapers. As she placed them in the cart, she noticed a middle-aged man with graying hair and a goatee smiling at her.

The truth is, Rose liked to have her motherhood observed, and now that she had an audience, she couldn't help but break into a grin. Happily, she reached up to get a huge box of lightly scented wipes with aloe vera and vitamin E. Thank God some people appreciated her motherhood. Piloted by her yearning for further recognition, she walked up and down the aisle of baby products, each time finding something she had no intention of purchasing earlier but now saw no reason why not to: Who could possibly call her an irresponsible mom?

How could they accuse her of paying no heed to her baby girl's needs? Had she not given up her college education when the baby was born? Had she not been working hard to sustain this marriage?

Every now and then Rose liked to imagine her best self still going to college, still a virgin, and yes, still slim.

Reward Yourself

Recently she had found a job at the university cafeteria, which might help the first dream to come true, though it wouldn't help the other two. As she stepped into the next aisle Rose's face contorted. International Food. She stole a nervous glance at the jars of eggplant dips and cans of salted grape leaves. No more patlijan!

No more sarmas! No more weird ethnic food! Even the sight of that hideous khavourma twisted her stomach into knots. From now on she would cook whatever she wanted. She would cook real Kentucky dishes for her daughter!

For one long minute Rose stood there racking her brain to find an example of the perfect meal. Her face perked up as she thought of hamburgers. What's more, fried eggs and maple-syrup-soaked pancakes and hot dogs with onions and mutton barbecue, yes especially mutton barbecue And instead of that squelchy yogurt drink that she was sick of seeing at every meal, they would drink apple cider! From now on she would choose their daily menu from Southernn cuisine, hot spicy chili or smoked bacon She would serve these dishes without complaining.

All she needed was a man who would sit across from her at the end of the day. A man who would truly love her, and her cooking. Definitely, that was what Rose needed: There was a time when she and Barsam had loved each other.

A time when Barsam did not even notice, and certainly did not mind, whatever food she placed on the table, for his gaze would be elsewhere, locked into hers, immersed in love. Alas, in next to no time that horrendous family of his had entered onto the stage only to dominate it forever, and ever since then theiY affection for each other had worn thin.

If that Tchakhmakhchian gang had not poked their aquiline noses into her marriage, Rose thought, her husband would still be by her side. But her mother-in-law did not respond. Frustrated, Rose repeated the question. That, indeed, was the second most common side effect of postmarital chronic resentment: It made you not only talk to yourself, but also made you obstinate with others. Even if you might be dangerously close to the breaking point, you would never bend.

Rose left the ethnic foods section, making a sharp, swift U-turn into the next aisle. Inspired by her anger and melancholy, she moved down the aisle of Canned Food and Dry Beans from one end to the other, almost bumping into a young man standing there.

He was eyeing the shelf where different brands of garbanzo beans were lined up. That guy surely wasn't there a second ago! He seemed to have simply materialized, as if zoomed down from the sky.

He had fair skin, a slim, well-proportioned body, hazel eyes, and a pointed nose, which made him look attentive and studious.


His sable hair was short. Rose suspected that she had seen him before, but where and when she couldn't remember. Having been caught by surprise, he could not easily get his masculine guard back. She smiled to show the young man that she pardoned him and then looked at his face without so much as a blink, making him even more nervous. Besides the suave-bunny expression that she now wore, Rose had three other animal-like looks inspired by Mother Nature, which she interchangeably employed for all her dealings with the opposite sex: Now I know!

You're from the U of A, right? I'll bet you like chicken quesadillas! I am usually behind the counter where the hot food is served-you know, omelettes and quesadillas. It's a part-time job, of course; it doesn't pay much but what are you gonna do? This is just for the time being. What I really want is to become a primary schoolteacher. She narrowed her eyes and moistened her bottom lip, switching to her feline expression. If Rose had had any previous experience with foreigners she would have detected the foreigner's introduction reflex-the fear of engaging in a conversation and not expressing the right words at the right time or with the correct pronunciation.

However, ever since she was a teenager Rose harbored a propensity to assume everything around her was either for or about or against her. Accordingly, she interpreted the silence as a sign of her own inability to make a decent introduction. To compensate for the error, she reached out her hand.

I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Rose. Rose raised her eyebrows and a trace of panic crossed her face. If Mustafa had any previous experience with provincials, he could detect the provincial's information reflexthe fear of not having enough knowledge of geography or world history.

Rose was trying to recall where on earth Istanbul was. Was it the capital of Egypt or perhaps somewhere in India She frowned in confusion. However, ever since he was a teenager Mustafa harbored a fright of losing his grip on time and his appeal for women. So he interpreted the gesture as a sign of having bored Rose by failing to come up with anything interesting to say, and to compensate for the lack, he hastened to cut off the conversation.

Before he disappeared, Rose heard him mumble "bye-bye" and then, as if echoing himself, another "bye-bye. She grabbed a few cans of garbanzo beans, including the ones Mustafa had left behind, and hurried to the checkout.

She passed through the aisle of journals and books, and it was there that she caught sight of something she sorely needed: The Great World Atlas. Underneath the title it said: She grabbed the book, pinpointed "Istanbul" in the index, and once having found the relevant page, looked at the map to see where it was.

Outside in the parking lot she found the ultramarine Jeep Cherokee heating up under the Arizona sun while her baby girl slept inside. Her soft brown hair was tied with a golden ribbon almost as big as her head and she was wearing a fluffy green outfit adorned with salmon stripes and purplish buttons.

The Bastard of Istanbul

She looked like a dwarf Christmas tree decorated by someone in a state of frenzy. Mama is gonna cook you real American food tonight!

She checked her hair in the rearview mirror, put on a cassette that was her favorite these days, and grabbed a handful of marshmallows before she started the engine. Everything about her baby seemed just about right: Her husband's family had wanted to name the baby girl after her grandmother's mother. How deeply Rose lamented not having named her something less outlandish, like Annie or Katie or Cyndie, instead of accepting the name her mother-in-law had come up with.

The name sounded so Did Rose have to wait until her baby girl had reached forty to use her name without it pricking her tongue? Rose rolled her eyes and ate another marshmallow.

Then and there she had a revelation: She could call her daughter "Amy" from now on, and as part of the baptism ceremony, she sent the baby a kiss. At the next intersection they waited for the light to turn green. Rose drummed on the steering wheel, accompanying Gloria Estefan. No modern love for me, it's all a hustle What's done is done, now it's my turn to have fun.

Mustafa placed the few items he had selected in front of the cashier: Kalamata olives, frozen spinach and feta pizza, a can of mushroom soup, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of chicken noodle soup. Until he came to the United States, he had never had to cook in his life. Every time he labored in the small kitchen in his twobedroom student apartment, he felt like a dethroned king living in exile.

Long gone were the days when he was served and fed by a devoted grandmother, mother, and four sisters. Now, dishwashing, room-cleaning, ironing, and especially shopping were a huge burden for him.

It wouldn't be as difficult if he could only rid himself of the feeling that someone else should be doing these things for him. He was no more used to doing chores than he was to being alone.

Mustafa had a housemate, an undergrad student from Indonesia who spoke very little, worked hard, and listened to odd tapes, such as Sounds of Mountain Streams or Songs of the Whales, in order to go to sleep every night. Mustafa had hoped that if he had a housemate, he would feel less lonely in Arizona, but the result had been quite the opposite.

Voices that questioned and blamed him for who he was. He slept poorly. He spent many nights watching old comedies or surfing on the Internet. It helped. The thoughts stopped at those times. Yet they would return with daylight. Walking from home to the campus, between classes or during lunchtime, Mustafa would catch himself thinking about Istanbul. How he wished he could remove his memory, restart the program, until all of the files were deleted and gone. Arizona was to have spared Mustafa the bad omen that fell upon every man in the Kazanci family.

But he didn't believe in such things. Drifting away from all those superstitions, evil-eye beads, coffeecup readings, and fortune-telling ceremonies in his family was less a conscious choice than an involuntary reflex. He thought they were all part of a dark and complicated world peculiar to women. Women were a mystery anyway. Having grown up with so many women, it was odd that he had felt so estranged from them all of his life.

Mustafa had grown up as the only boy in a family where the men died too soon and too unexpectedly. He experienced growing sexual desires while surrounded by sisters who were taboo to a fantasy life. Nevertheless, he slipped into unspeakable thoughts about women. At first Mustafa fell for girls who rejected him. Terrified that he would be rejected, ridiculed, and reviled, he turned to yearning for the female body from a distance. This year he had looked angrily at the photos of top models in glossy American magazines, as if to absorb the excruciating fact that no woman this perfect would ever desire him.

Mustafa would never forget the fierce look on Zeliha's face when she called him "a precious phallus. He knew Zeliha could see behind his forced masculinity to the real story of his upbringing. She recognized that he had been pampered and spoon-fed by an oppressed mother, intimidated and beaten by an oppressive father.

Could things have been different between Zeliha and him? Why did he feel so rejected and unloved with so many sisters around and a doting mother by his side?

Zeliha always mocked Mustafa and his mother always admired him. He wanted to be just an ordinary man, good and fallible at the same time. All he needed was compassion and a chance to be a better person. If only he had a woman who loved him, everything would be different.

Mustafa knew he had to make it in America not because he wanted to attain a better future but because he had to dispose of his past. That was one thing Mustafa still had not gotten used to. In America everyone asked everyone how they were doing, even complete strangers.

He understood that it was a way of greeting more than a real question. But then he didn't know how to greet back with the same graceless ease. He picked up his plastic bag and walked outside. A Mexican American couple crossed the sidewalk, she pushing a baby in a stroller, he holding the hand of a toddler.

They walked unhurriedly while Rose watched them with envy. Now that her marriage was over, every couple she saw seemed blissfully content. I wish your grandma-the-witch could have seen me flirting with that Turk. Can you imagine her horror? I cannot think of a worse nightmare for the proud Tchakhmakhchian family!

Proud and puffed up The light turned green, the cars that were lined up in front of her lurched forward, and the van behind her honked. But Rose remained motionless.

The fantasy was so delicious she could not move. Her mind wallowed in many images, while her eyes beamed a ray of pure rage at an oblique angle. Yaa Gyasi. Louise Erdrich.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Arundhati Roy. The Good People. Hannah Kent. The Idiot. Elif Batuman. Lincoln in the Bardo. George Saunders. Welcome to Braggsville. Geronimo Johnson. Black Milk. The Dressmaker's War. Mary Chamberlain. The Sisters of Alameda Street. Lorena Hughes. Portrait of a Turkish Family. Irfan Orga. The Red Notebook. Antoine Laurain. Carrying Albert Home. Homer Hickam. Fates and Furies. Lauren Groff. My Absolute Darling.

Gabriel Tallent. The Story of the Jews. Simon Schama. Pachinko National Book Award Finalist. Min Jin Lee. The Lost Vintage. Ann Mah.

Ian McEwan. The Book of Dust: Philip Pullman. The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Melanie Benjamin. This Must Be the Place. Maggie O'Farrell. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter. Hazel Gaynor. The City of Brass. A Chakraborty. Sing, Unburied, Sing. Jesmyn Ward.

The Marrow Thieves. Cherie Dimaline. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. Joanna Cannon. My Name Is Lucy Barton. Elizabeth Strout. The Fishermen. Chigozie Obioma. The Break. Katherena Vermette. The House at the Edge of Night. Catherine Banner. The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing. Mira Jacob. American War. Omar El Akkad. Jess Kidd. The Twelve-Mile Straight.

Eleanor Henderson.

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A Fifty-Year Silence. Miranda Richmond Mouillot. Lethal White. Robert Galbraith.